Thursday, June 06, 2013

EXTRA: Loss of photographers not about adapting to new technology as much as ol’ fashioned union-busting

A trekkie on the picket line?
It has been a week since the Chicago Sun-Times and all of its sister suburban papers made it public that it was letting go its entire photography staff.

They try to claim it is a matter of adapting to new technology and accepting that people want more video clips as part of their news reports on the Internet.

YET IT’S JUST a little too hard to swallow. I’d accept this a lot more easier if those Wrapports types who own the newspapers would just admit that a priority of theirs is getting rid of those photographers who were covered by a Chicago Newspaper Guild contract.

Because a lot of the people who are going to get hired in the future to accommodate all this desire for video clips are going to be younger types, and the company will probably go out of its way to ensure that the guild (a.k.a., the dreaded union) will never get their paws on these new people. Otherwise, at least a few of those photographic veterans would have been retained, and retrained.

Maybe the Sun-Times didn’t call out the cops to crack heads open when the photographers and their supporters picketed the newspaper’s offices Thursday morning. But the desire to not have to deal with a union was just as much a motivation as it was at a place like the old Republic Steel – where East Side neighborhood residents still pay tribute to the strikers who were killed on Memorial Day 76 years ago.

So it was totally appropriate that Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was among those who picketed the Sun-Times on Thursday, although I’m sure she also gains from the public recognition she will receive.

CTU boss Karen Lewis takes on new labor cause
AFTER ALL, SHE got herself on television, and that bolsters her name recognition for her own future causes.

Whereas the Sun-Times’ recognition? They got professional smart-aleck Stephen Colbert to do a segment that on his Comedy Central program that made the newspaper look rather ridiculous.

And for what it’s worth, the difference in images in the newspaper is notable – particularly since the bulk of the pictures now appearing in the pages of the Sun-Times seem to be from the Associated Press.

As for this particular posting, the images accompanying it were shot with my own smartphone. And I’ll be the first to admit they look horrid; just as bad as they do when they get used on television newscasts. But this could be the future, if this particular trend catches on.


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